EAC Academic Standards and Practices Committee

Current Issues: 5-Year Rule

The Academic Standards and Practices Committee is very interested in hearing your thoughts about any current issue. Please let us know what you think.

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Submitted by:
Barry C. Anderson, RC Biology Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

At our meeting on Friday, the faculty decided that we do not favor a blanket "5 year rule" to cover students who have passed the time limits. We would prefer that this be decided on a case by case basis and not by a one size fits all rule.
An example might be an engineer in practice for 15 years comes back to school to be come a nurse. Should this person have to retake Math 65? Obviously the answer is no.
If I decided to return to college to get an anthropology degree should I have to retake WR 121. Once again, no. <In addition, I'd rather be set on fire than go back to school for a degree>.

Submitted by:
Mary Severson, SY Academic Advisor (Mar 8, 2006)

I recently met with a student who is typical at PCC. She began taking courses about 10 years ago. She's earning the AAS in CIS degree. When she began, she took WR 121, 122, 227. She also took MTH 60, 26, 95, 111 and 243. All of these courses are over 5 years old now. After they were completed, the student got cancer and went through treatment. She missed a couple of years of school. She returned to PCC and continued taking the CIS courses that she needs for her CIS degree - she usually takes one or two courses per term.
Now she's getting ready to graduate and she's coming up against the 5 year rule. She completed more than enough credits in both writing and math. She's deep into her major. She's now being held accountable for courses she took in the beginning of her program and is told she won't graduate without verifying that she still remembers that content or takes additional coursework (that she doesn't need). I encouraged her to apply for a waiver of the 5 year rule.

She is thinking about continuing to take coursework for a business transfer degree. For that degree she'll need to complete MTH 244 Statistics II. In order to go onto that course, she'll need to retest in math and get back up to speed in statistics. This makes sense for her to do in light of the business major. It's relevant material.

Updating because a program specifically requires it is very different from updating because of an arbitrary timeline.
I sincerely hope that the 5-year timeframe of the competency policy will be eliminated. Many PCC students take stop out during their degree completion and need to be able to re-enter and graduate without additional penalties.

Submitted by:
Steve White, RC Auto Collision Repair Program Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

We were asked to review the current five year rule regarding math and writing in our department meeting. Here is what we came up with.
It appears that a transfer student can use earned credit from another institution toward a degree at PCC for an unlimited amount of time. On the other hand, it appears that a past student at PCC can only use math and writing credit toward a degree if it has been earned in less than the past five years.

To us that says that the quality of teaching and the retention of knowledge is less at PCC than all other institutions. We feel that whichever the direction this goes that consistency is the real issue and it needs to be equal. In many programs or degrees current math skill are a big part of success. In others it plays a lesser roll and students may or may not find them as necessary. Therefore assessment tests should be given to see that students test high enough to be successful or should be directed, not required, to enhance their skills in any area they may be lacking. Many students are capable of doing that on their own, some should take a class or two.

Many students return to PCC after some time to update or change direction and it seems like a very negative statement to say that, no matter what the program, they must repeat credits in math and writing based only on a calendar.

It is our recommendation that the five year rule be dropped so that past students of PCC and transfer students are treated equally.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Marshall, DE/Student Learning Center Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)
The Rock Creek DE staff met to discuss the 5 year rule and we agreed it could be lightened up as it does provide some barriers to many students. We thought this should only be lightened up though, if that student had been in school for that time. If they have fallen out though for 5 years and decided to come back, they should have to retake or take the placement test and test out of each of the required subject areas.
Submitted by:
Doris Werkman, SY Speech communication and Journalism Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

I would like to see the 5-year rule for math and writing removed. Here's my reasoning:

First, it is a hindrance to students. Yes, they should be able to get through PCC and onto the university in less than 5 years but there are always circumstances that prevent this from happening. Money. Jobs. Children. Incarceration :) Whatever, life happens and circumstances change.

Secondly, universities accept students' credits and do not require them to repeat writing nor math regardless of how many years they have been taken. This argument is not saying that we should not take into consideration that we at PCC want students to have fresh up-to-date knowledge and that redundancy isn't a good thing; it is saying that requiring students to retake or retest after 5 years is above the call for university/transfer requirements.

Thirdly, it just seems a bit arrogant that the most important thing for students to remember are math and writing. No one is saying we should place on students a 5-year rule for speech or for dance or for chemistry or biology or for sociology. The concepts and issues that these disciplines teach are just as important for the student, especially within their major area of study. I realize that only math and writing are core requirements for all degrees and the others aren't (with speech required for two degrees, but apparently no one forgets how to speak like they forget how to write and to add). I just don't fully grasp why PCC holds students to a different standard for these two areas than for others.

Perhaps it is time all of us got over ourselves and we drop the 5-year rule.

Committee Chair 2006-2007: Porter Raper
Committee Chair 2006-2007: Porter Raper